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Return Travel on Recently Expired U.S. Passports

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) issued new guidance yesterday regarding U.S. citizens returning from travel abroad with expired passports. Specifically, U.S. citizens who currently find themselves overseas with passports that expired on or after January 1, 2020 may be able to use those expired passports to return to the U.S. up through the end of this year, December 31, 2021, if the below conditions are met. Due to unprecedented processing delays and backlogs caused by COVID, many people have found themselves stuck abroad with an expired or expiring passport and have been unable to secure appointments for passport renewals, necessitating this action by the DOS and DHS.


Copied from the Department of State:


If you are overseas and your passport expired on or after January 1, 2020, you may be able to use your expired passport to return directly to the United States until December 31, 2021.

You qualify for this exception if all the following are true:

  • You are a U.S. citizen.
  • You are currently abroad seeking direct return to the United States.
  • You are flying directly to the United States, a United States territory, or have only short-term transit (“connecting flights”) through a foreign country on your direct return to the United States or to a United States Territory.
  • Your expired passport was originally valid for 10 years. Or, if you were 15 years of age or younger when the passport was issued, your expired passport was valid for 5 years.
  • Your expired passport is undamaged.
  • Your expired passport is unaltered.
  • Your expired passport is in your possession.

You do not qualify for this exception if:

  • You wish to depart from the United States to an international destination.
  • You are currently abroad seeking to travel to a foreign country for any length of stay longer than an airport connection en route to the United States or to a United States territory.
  • Your expired passport was limited in validity.
  • Your expired passport is a special issuance passport (such as a diplomatic, official, service, or no-fee regular passport).
  • Your expired passport is damaged.
  • Your expired passport is altered.
  • Your expired passport is not in your possession.

All other passport rules and regulations remain in effect. The Department of Homeland Security maintains discretion to reject any bearer in accordance with 22 CFR 53.2(b)(7) and 8 CFR 235.1(b).



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